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Numéro 78 mars 1998

Echanges / Surfaces

René Péron
Urban development of shops, French-style

The conflict between supermarkets and
traditional small retailers has overshadowed
the issues of urban transformation,
consumption habits and commercial
strategies over the last 30 years.
Apart from city-centre revival projects,
local authorities have had little control
over suburban shop development. With
the spatial mobility of city-dwelling
consumers, the growing disparity between
their incomes and the social segmentation
of supply, governments have
focused on the architecture and facilities
of new supermarkets rather than on
the economic trade-offs.

Marc Bonneville, Virginie Bourdin
Urban planning and shop development

The anarchic development of out-oftown
shopping centres illustrates the
extent to which urban planning is powerless
in this field. The regulations on
supermarkets have rarely been part of
publicly discussed urban planning objectives.
The large distribution groups, for
their part, are seeking to match the design
of their premises with the different types
of consumption. A less space-oriented,
more economic mode of urban planning,
more open to public consultation, should
ensure the overcoming of the dilemma of
choosing between a total freeze on projects
or their unprincipled authorisation.

Thierry Fellmann, Bernard Morel
Metropolisation and shopping islands

In a context of increased economic competition
and greater mobility of citydwellers,
retailing groups are less
concerned about the spatial conditions
of consumption than by the problems of
just-in-time stock management. The
meshed network of motorways is redefining
the shopping map in urban areas.
Out-of-town shopping centres are being
developed at motorway nodes, in competition
with, or as a complement to, the
older city-centre shopping areas. These
shopping islands are shaping the future
development of our towns and cities.

Christine Chivallon, Nathalie Marme, Dominique Prost
Artefact of place and urbanity

New multi-service shopping malls are
being developed in large cities with a
view to reducing the disparity between the
hypermarkets selling household products
in the suburbs and the luxury boutiques
in the older pedestrianised city-centre
shopping streets. The Rives d’Arcins
shopping mall in Bordeaux is a remarkable
attempt to offset the commercial
logic of the site by means of a rich and
symbolic decor. The representations of
the aquatic world link the boutiques in
the mall to the natural environment surrounding
them and thus give a particular
connotation to the shopping places. The
resulting monumental artefact can hardly
be qualified as a public space in itself,
given that this masquerade is decreed and
controlled by the commercial imperative
for which it was designed.

Michèle de La Pradelle
The spectacle society at the local market

No market, in either its literal or figurative
sense, can ever be equated to a mere
economic transaction. Indeed, on urban
street markets, most exchanges are
governed by a principle of formal equality.
Through their interactions, the stall
holders and customers of the weekly
market in Carpentras create an imaginary
and fleeting micro-society which
defies real social status. In the Barbès
district in Paris, it is less the local citizenship,
but rather the diversity of world
cultures which is being played between
the boutiques and market stalls.

Alain Metton
The hopes and grudges of city centre retailers

Over the last twenty years in France, the
boom in suburban hypermarkets has
overshadowed the transformations
affecting traditional city-centre retailers.
These changes are the decline of
retailers selling household goods, the
development of specialist or luxury sales
outlets, along with services being now
a commonplace. If traditional small
trade is to survive, city-centre retailers
will have to coordinate their action in
response to the well-orchestrated strategies
of supermarkets and franchised
outlets. Similarly, the symbolic attraction
of town-centre shopping will need to be
enhanced, despite the problems of traffic
congestion and inadequate parking

Guénola Capron
Shopping centres in Buenos Aires

In Buenos Aires, new American-style
shopping centres are making up for the
desertion of other public spaces. Through
its architecture, street furniture and signs,
the shopping centre reintroduces certain
components of traditional public spaces
such as streets or small shops. It is frequented
for a variety of purposes by a
wide range of people throughout the
week, regular or occasional customers,
consumers or window-shoppers. When
asked, most users say that they appreciate
the security and cleaning services
which eliminate all traces of incivility
from this area accessible to all, thus safeguarding
urban sociability.

Sylvie Mazzella, Nadine Roudil
Municipal markets in Marseilles

In Marseilles, regulations covering street
and food markets were introduced at a
later date than in other French cities.
These bustling places in the heart of the
city were pushed out towards the suburbs
in the wake of post-war urban development.
Over the last fifteen years, faced
with competition from external markets,
the city of Marseilles has defined a
policy to bring markets back to the city,
accompanied by a stricter set of regulations,
as part of a wider programme for
the symbolic rehabilitation of the city
centre. Despite their fluctuating fortunes,
affected by the ups and downs of the
port economy and competition from
super and hypermarkets, these street
markets nevertheless correspond to a
sustained demand for urban sociability.

Pascal Garret
Egyptian markets at the turn of the century

At the end of the last century, the Egyptian
state built covered food markets
equipped with modern food conservation
facilities in its major cities. To this end,
it called upon foreign investors to bring
in European capital and know-how. In
Cairo, the construction of the market
was accompanied by major urban development
projects that enhanced its overall
prestige. Improved hygiene and the
association of public and private interests
constituted a new, modern approach
to urban market development.

Sonia Debouche
« I’ll let you have it for 800 francs »

Open-air second-hand markets, shortlived
places of commercial activity, are
enjoying a boom in French towns and
cities. Unlike other markets, their success
depends upon the existence of a climate
of trust between buyers and sellers.
Uncertain of the value of the objects
they are buying or selling, the sellers
rely upon the knowledge of the collector
or connoisseur. The buyer reveals
his uncertainty by bargaining. The final
price of an object will depend upon the
quality of this sequence of transactions.

Vincenzo Ruggiero
Post-fordist drug dealers and « just-in-time » management

In its system of distribution, the illicit
drug economy has reproduced the
modes of labour organisation developed
in the industrial society. However,
over the last few years, the existence of
a broader array of drug consumption
habits has introduced a certain flexibility
and the distribution system is now
dividing up into specialised branches.
This new segmental marketing approach
appears to be based on the « just-intime
 » method originally developed by
the Japanese industry.

Sylvie Bredeloup
Diamonds, traders from the Senegal river and cities

Constantly on the move, often without
legal papers, the diamond merchants of
the Senegal river are upsetting the settled
urban community with their comings
and goings. The mining towns and capital
cities of Africa form their logistical
network. They stay for brief periods,
constructing buildings as financial
investments or mosques for their prestige.
In the shadow of De Beers, the firm that
has the monopoly of the diamond trade,
their social success remains fragile.

Danièle Patier
Delivery vans in the streets of Bordeaux

The logistics of urban goods deliveries
has always been a thorny problem and
remains unsolved to this day, largely
because it remains poorly understood.
The large retail distributors, responsible
for a substantial share of goods flows, are
currently hesitating between the hyperconcentration
of products in the suburbs
or a hierarchy of distribution, depending
upon ease of access, right to the heart
of old city centres. Apioneering survey
of goods transport in the city of Bordeaux
shows in any case that the city
centre polarises the majority of flows,
notably for deliveries to retail traders.

Christophe Gibout
City outskirts : for business or hospitality

The outskirts of today’s towns have
become a disparate assortment of shop
windows, advertising posters and car
parks which have banished all notion of
place. They are the consequence of mass
consumption during periods of growth
and the spatial expansion of towns driven
by the automobile. Following the
economic downturn in recent years,
consumption has become more fragmented
and symbolic expectations have
taken over, bringing the former functional
framework into question.
Conscious of the absence of image resulting
from this uncertainty, local authorities
are now seeking to add a touch of
originality to these city gates.

Michel Kokoreff
Drugs deal : organization and traffic sites

The multiple reality of the illicit drugs
market is much more complex than the
simplistic image of suburban housing
estates swarming with drug dealers. The
history of their settlement reveals major
differences in this respect from one
estate or city to another. Often, it is cannabis
or hash that is traded at the foot of
the building, while heroin is proscribed.
Heroin, like crack or ecstasy, is sold in
the mobile city environment via shifting
distribution networks and is less
closely associated with local juvenile